Comments about ‘In our opinion: No easy answers to end tragedies like the one at Sandy Hook’

Return to article »

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 8 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Most recommended
Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Do ultra violent movies and video games turn normal people into insane killers? Unlikely. But what if the person is already in an unhealthy mental state? Do such movies and videos have a reinforcing effect on already unhealthy thoughts? Likely so.

We have an entire industry built on influencing human behavior with brief imagery (advertisements). Yet some believe that we can subject ourselves to hour after hour (day after day) of the most violent imagery and remain unscathed? How is such a dichotomy possible?

But this is a topic that borders on the moral. Something that our society is less and less tolerant of. Morality is to be a private issue. One that never moves into the public sphere. But the actions of those so affected are already in the public sphere.

Please understand that I do not believe this is the only cause nor that eliminating it would be a full cure. Far from it. We need better mental health options, stronger family structures, and a serious discussion on guns to name just a few. But the violence in our culture has to be part of the discussion. Otherwise we are just hiding our heads in the sand.

  • 7:05 a.m. Jan. 8, 2013
  • Like (7)
  • Top comment
Cedar Park, Texas

Fark.com is using a common debate tactic used to discredit the other side by taking your opponents position and pushing it to an extreme or exaggerated level. This is common, especially when you are debating from a weak position. Violence in our culture does not originate in movies, but it most certainly reinforced by them. It is ironic that most movie celebrities are not inhibited by a lack of knowledge in expressing political and moral opinions. However, they exhibit a huge moral blind spot in their lack of criticism of the moral implications of extreme violence in their profession.

South Jordan, UT

I couldn't agree more with this editorial. Thank you, Deseret News Editorial Board, for being brave enough to "muddle through and try to cobble together piecemeal approaches to an intractable problem." Your pragmatic and thoughtful approach might not come with sparks and glitter that more politicized, one-size-fits-all approaches have, but it is the only kind of thinking that's going to get this nation any closer to policy that reduces violent crime. The hypocrisy runs deep on all sides of this argument. It's time for our nation to drop the rhetoric and "muddle" through this.

South Jordan, UT

I am a Film Major at the University of Utah, and I have seen and enjoyed many of Quentin Tarantino's films. I think he's a great filmmaker. But after the shootings this past year, I won't be seeing any more of his films. Nor will I be playing any more video games that glorify shooting people, though that eliminates about half of them. I won't miss them. As "Twin Lights" said, ultraviolent media will never turn me into an insane killer, but it would be dangerous to think that such media doesn't have a reinforcing effect on already unhealthy thoughts.


The gun industry has partnered with the entertainment media (video games etc) to promote its products, which should give those of us in favor of more regulation something to think about.

But the news media plays a big role in how these types of tragedies are covered. Clearly these people are seeking attention and are mostly on suicide missions (the heavily protected Aurora shooter might be an exception). I think the news media should adopt some different standards--such as a blackout of the perpetrator's name and image--indefinitely, 30 days, whatever. We need to deny these disturbed people the fame and attention they seek in their final desperate acts.

Salt Lake City, UT

[On that score, it seems we succeeded.]

These are the same tired arguments we've heard since Columbine. No, it isn't a discussion, just an argument. People blame the thing they dislike. If you dislike guns; it's gun. If you dislike violent media; it violent media. If you dislike the healthcare system, it's the healthcare system.

Maybe people just need to grow up and admit there is nothing that could have been done about what happened. It's gonna happen again and there's nothing to stop it.

And no, just trying a bunch of stuff is never a good idea. Chances are they'll just mess things up further. I'd rather the devil I know, than the one I don't.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

Wow, I’m actually a bit stunned by the wisdom of this editorial. Thank you DN for not being cynical and pandering and for treating your audience like grownups. We should indeed have a national conversation about this complex issue and not settle for any one-sided easy fix answers simply meant to appease a constituency.

Just like a house is not built with any one tool or material, neither is a killer. Everything that goes into shaping the mind and intention of the individuals that shot up Colorado and Newtown should be part of our conversation. That said, I think the answers are more likely to be found by looking at what we put into our brains rather than the tools we put in our hands, but sadly it is arguably simpler to ban a class of “tools” than to address our entire culture.


Deseret News failed at creating useful dialog. I have to agree with Mukkake, this just created an argument. Its pretty clear that violence is not created by art (whatever medium you want to use). Violence predates human history. It's primal and animalistic.
We cannot legislate evil people anymore than we can penalize raw stupidity. Its just one of those things in life.
The answer is to be the best parent you can be. Teach your kids right from wrong, and be involved. Not everything can be controlled, not everything should be.

Tooele, UT

Re: "No easy answers to end tragedies like the one at Sandy Hook"

That's just a regurgitation of the liberal excuse for not letting this crisis go to waste, advancing the freedom-robbing liberal agenda across as wide a front as possible.

There actually IS a simple solution to tragedies like the one at Sandy Hook. And it's being applied here in Utah.

It's to train willing teachers and staff to carry concealed and be ready to respond defensively in emergencies.

This measure will not only provide a pool of trained responders, it will send notice that schools are no longer defenseless free-fire zones, deterring disturbed miscreants from choosing schools.

This solution, narrowly tailored, both to directly address the actual problem, and to leave important freedoms intact, is not only the sole workable solution, it's the sole legal solution.

Advancing liberal "solutions" that infringe legal rights of the insane or gun rights of the law-abiding not only fails to address the problem, it assures centuries of bitter litigation and resulting inaction on this issue.

Eugene, OR

You're correct that there isn't one single answer to this, but you seem to be going out of your way to ignore the fact that part of that solution has to include common sense restrictions on automatic weapons. Demonizing Quentin Tarantino won't change that.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@ Twin Lights
Excellent comments by the way – both on advertising and morals.

You touched on a problem that might be universal which is that our “solutions” to one problem inevitably create new problems. Not to get all preachy, but in our long overdue efforts to rid our societies of ecclesiastical authority and religious tyranny, we not only removed religion from the public square (a good thing in my view), but we unfortunately threw out objective morality as well.

Moral relativism, which does away with common standards and relegates useful emotions like shame and guilt to jokes about parochial school, is our new problem.

We need to stop being afraid of calling out bad behavior and even harmful influences. Morality is objective (thank you evolution!) and can be embraced without having to believe in myths and magic. If our society cannot do this, things are likely to get worse. Or we may become overtly & publicly religious and have to deal with old problems yet again (see pre-Enlightenment Europe or most Muslim countries today).

Eric Samuelsen
Provo, UT

The argument that violent art leads to violent behavior goes all the way back to Plato, who got it wrong too. There simply is no evidence to support the notion that violent movies lead to violent behavior. To compare movie imagery to advertizing is a false comparison--ads are trying to get you to do something positive, purchase a product. Movies aren't trying to get you to behave violently. Movie imagery is cathartic; it sates human atavism, gives it a harmless outlet. Movies and violent FPS type video games both reduce the tendency towards violence. At least there is a direct correspondence between the prevalence of violent entertainments and statistical reductions in actual violence.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Tyler D

Thank you and I agree with your sentiments about moral relativism and the removal of morals from the public square (in much of the media, all religious folks are portrayed as idiots with stunted mental capabilities).

Reference myths and magic. I do not consider what I believe to be either. There need be no conflict between religion and science. Or with a free society. Much of our history mirrors this. The fight has gone into overdrive recently.

Eric Samuelsen,

You know I respect your opinions but that you and I diverge here. Art in the days of Plato had little in common with the total immersion realism of today.

Let me ask you a question. Do you think that a therapist treating someone with significant violent tendencies would recommend a diet of hyper violent movies and videos?

Agreed that movies and video games are not TRYING to get us to behave violently, but might that not be the result at least for the most vulnerable minds? Does hard pornography (for which similar arguments can be made) have no sexualizing effect on ANY of those using it?

BTW, not all ads are positive. Think politics.

There You Go Again
Saint George, UT

"...There actually IS a simple solution to tragedies like the one at Sandy Hook. And it's being applied here in Utah.

It's to train willing teachers and staff to carry concealed and be ready to respond defensively in emergencies...".

Simple solutions...

Train willing teachers to...

carry concealed killing machines...

as well as be ready to respond defensively with a concealed killing machine...

in emergencies...of course.

charlotte, NC

I still haven't heard a response for the following questions;

What video games did Genghis Khan play?

What was Napoleon's favorite action movie?

How many role-playing sessions finally set off Vlad the Impaler?

These names have become mythical, but the were very real. Man has been violent by nature since the dawn of time. Nothing will ever change that.

Tooele, UT

Re: "There simply is no evidence to support the notion that violent movies lead to violent behavior."

Yeah, tell that to those who've lost family members to disturbed people either imitating, or trying to impress or address perceived slights of fictional movie characters, including the latest in a long series -- the Joker of Aurora.

While those in the soft sciences may have yet to prove the hypothesis, it's pretty clear to real people that there's a causal link. And, I suspect some of the worst of these "artists" will shortly wake up to a court summons, and be required to address the consequences of their actions.

m.g. scott

Isn't it ironic that at the core of much of this discussion is a conflict between the 1st Amendment and the 2nd Amendment.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@Twin Light

Poor choice of words on my part… should have said something like “without having to believe anything on insufficient evidence.” I didn’t mean to insult your personal beliefs and apologize for the offense.

My point was simply that I reject the view that the only way we can have objective morality is to also be religious, something religious people claim on a regular basis. We all have an evolved moral sense that does not come from religion.

To demonstrate this, look at two passages from the Bible and ask yourself if they are morally equivalent – take Jesus preaching the golden rule and the passage in the OT that tells you to stone anyone working on the Sabbath (or breaking just about any of God’s laws). If Christians got their morality from the Bible (God’s word), these passages would be morally equal. But of course they are not and we know this because of our own moral sense.

Moral Relativism of course has nothing to say about either of these, which in my book makes it completely bankrupt.

Tooele, UT

Re: ". . . conflict between the 1st Amendment and the 2nd Amendment."

There's no conflict, whatever.

The First Amendment free-speech clause guarantees only a right to speak. NOT freedom from the consequences of that speech.

Libel and slander laws are the perfect illustration. It's only under very narrowly limited circumstances that a person may be prohibited from speaking about someone else. But it has been the law since the founding or our Republic, that once a person has spoken, he can, and should, be called to account for the effects of it.

salt lake, UT

@mg scott
I think it is ironic that those that admittedly defend their first and second amendment rights seem to think that there is no responsibility that goes with those rights.

to comment

DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.
About comments